Writers love to write, and many of them write in different genres. Sometimes, however, it takes some trial and error before we find just the right genre for our talents and passions.
That’s how author Susan Neal stumbled into a genre that’s helping her reach tens of thousands of people with life-changing books.
Thank you so much for being here today! How did you pick your genre?
I write healthy living non-fiction books. It took me a long time to figure out my genre. I tried to write fiction, short stories, and devotions. But I received rejections with everything I submitted. I think all along God wanted me to use my nursing background and experience with losing my health to write books to help others improve their health and weight. I feel as though I had a Divine-led genre path.
What’s the most difficult part of writing your genre?
Research is the tough part. I read clinical research articles and search valid websites for pertinent information. This takes time and effort, but I want the most accurate information for my readers. My book, Solving the Gluten Puzzle: Discovering Gluten Sensitivity and Embracing the Gluten-Free Lifestyle required loads of research regarding the four gluten related disorders, how to diagnose them, and treat each one. If you would like to discover if you may have an intolerance to gluten, take the quiz I created at glutenintolerancequiz.com.
I can’t imagine the work, but I’m sure your readers appreciate it! How long does it take you to write, edit, and finalize a book?
Five months. About halfway through each book, I send several chapters to my professional editor. She helps with the development of the book. We go back and forth the last two months.
How did you find/pick your agent?
Cyle Young was my agent for three years. I found him at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC). I sent him my unpublished Star Wars Bible study to critique. (If you plan to attend a writers conference, be sure to send a submission for a literary agent or publisher to critique, so you get that extra appointment and they get to see how well you write.) At the BRMCWC, my Star Wars Bible study won third place in the awards contest. The next morning, Cyle offered to be my agent. Entering contests is essential to an author’s writing career. When you win, other people notice.
If you self-published, why did you decide to go that route?
The first manuscript I self-published was Scripture Yoga. I could not find a publisher to publish this book since it had such a small target market. Therefore, I chose to publish it on my own because I felt compelled to provide a safe environment for Christians to perform yoga. I went on to self-publish six other healthy living books. My best seller, 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates sold 17,000 copies in its first three years and won the Selah Award at the BRMCWC.
Congratulations! Since then, you’ve also dipped your toe into traditional publishing. What led to that decision?
Elk Lake Publishing published my latest book, Eat God’s Food: A Kids Guide to Healthy Eating. I did not feel qualified to self-publish a children’s picture book, so I found a traditional publisher.
What’s surprised you most about the publishing process?
At first, the self-publishing process was difficult—just like riding a bike for the first time. But after I published a second book, it became easier. Therefore, I was most surprised that the publishing process was easy after I found out what to do—just like riding a bike. I became a certified writer coach, so now I help other authors self-publish their books. You can find my coaching services at https://susanuneal.com/authorcoaching.
What advice do you have for new authors?
Understand that whether you are self-published or traditionally published, the author is responsible for book marketing. I recommend joining the Christian Indie Publishing Association to help you figure out how to market your book. Learning about the publishing industry can be overwhelming. So why not get help from an association.
If you’ve ever worked with a freelance editor, how did you find that editor? How would you describe the experience?
I asked the Director of the Florida Christian Writers Conference, Eva Marie Everson, to recommend an editor. Eva Marie had critiqued my work at a small conference, so she knew what I wrote. She matched me perfectly with a Christian, nonfiction editor.
I thoroughly enjoyed working with my editor. I learned so much from her and even took some extra coaching sessions to develop my writing further. My writing improved with each chapter and book. I’ve now published eight books.
As a Certified AWSA Writer Coach, Susan Neal RN, MBA, MHS, desires to help others publish and sell their God-given message. She is the author of eight healthy living books. Susan won the 2020 Christian Author Network Excellence in Marketing Award for Outstanding Broadcast Media for her book marketing campaign. Susan is the Director of Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) and Christian Indie Awards.
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